Plans are being concluded by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON to sell off Keystone Bank Ltd, the last of the three nationalized financial institutions yet to be sold.
AMCON is set to announce new owners for the bank, following a commercial placed for the bidding process, for which 13 companies submitted their expression of interests.
Sources reveal a coalition of powerful Northern interests, such as the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and MD/CEO of Sigma Pensions Limited, Umar Modibbo, may emerge the new owner of Keystone Bank with its nearly 160 branches.
Keystone Bank, previously known as Bank PHB, was among the three banks nationalized by the CBN in 2011, after failing a stress test conducted by the apex bank.
The two others, Mainstreet and Enterprise Banks, had been handed over to other stronger banks in the industry by AMCON more than a year ago.
However, some AMCON senior officials are voicing strong opposition to the planned sale of Keystone Bank Ltd. They allege that the chairman of AMCON, Ahmed Kuru, has concluded plans to hand over Keystone bank to a coalition of powerful Northern interests, disregarding extant takeover provisions of AMCON in the process.
According to the disgruntled officials, the deal could also see Nigerian taxpayers lose billions of naira if allowed to stand. This is because AMCON is reportedly in talks to sell the bank for about N25.1 billion, representing only a fraction of the approximately N200 billion that AMCON paid to purchase the bank’s bad debts in 2011.
This is despite the fact that some of the companies that participated in the bidding process offered more than the amount and had core banking expertise.
According to them, Mr. Kuru allegedly sidestepped laid down requirements for asset sale to ensure Keystone is ceded to his cronies. Instead, he is making plans to hand it over to the two influential Nigerians represented by a firm which did not participate in the bidding process, reflecting a clear contradiction of basic public asset sale requirements.